Saturday, February 03, 2007

TRANS-EUROPE EXPRESS 5: German gem, Insekt by Sascha Hommer

Okay, okay-- So I've read over our last, hmmm 3 or 4 posts, and I DO see that we basically have devolved into hyperbolic "OMG!1, you HAVE 2 check out this AWESOME [fill_in_the_blank]!~#@" ravings. But jeez, I think we're at a historic comics/cultural epoch, where there is basically a rapidly and exponentially exploding amount of cool graphic novels/manga/publishers, and the number of hours outside of work to nerdily blog about them is, sadly, not increasing any time soon.

BUT we're doing our best, and splitting leisure between a goal of posting at least once weekly, and slaving away on more long-form scanlations and an original comic for APE 2007 (More details later). Right, OK... back on the COOL SURPLUS tip, this post is about our newest cartoonist crush, this time hailing from Germany: Mr. Sascha Hommer.

Sascha Hommer (real name = Pascal Bohr) is a German cartoonist, currently residing in Hamburg. He's a young dude, born in 1979, and has been busy and active in the German comics scene for a few years. For one, Sascha founded and edited the German comic anthology/magazine, ORANG, which is still going strong but no longer under his tutelage.

He also guest edited issue 82 of the luxurious and thick publication, STRAPAZIN, from Zurich. STRAPAZIN is like a weirder, more avant stepsister to The Comics Journal, and I wish something like this was being published in US. You can check out the one issue I picked up here, which included Same Hat staples like Tatsumi, Maruo, Takano Fumiko, Tsuge Yoshiharu, and Furuya. D-D-DANG.

Sascha has published shorts in ORANG and other places, but his first major release was just this past year, with his graphic novel INSEKT, put out by Reprodukt. Stroke of weird luck for that trip #217-- I got to meet him at Frankfurt Book Fair's giant comics pavilion. He spoke quietly in English and was really generous, and we talked briefly about European & American indie comics. He also signed the copy of Insekt I bought directly from him (that always feels nice).

He described his two main influences for this book as CHARLES BURNS & CHARLES SCHULTZ. Can you see it? (duhhh) The main drag of this entire post is that I DON'T SPEAK German, and so I've only been able to pore over the pictures. But like many fanboys before me (Evan in high school with unreleased Battle Angel Alita, Commodore Perry whacking it to kick ass Hokusai tentacle shunga) I can still tell that the book is some damn amazing cartooning. Thanks to babelfish, I know that it's about an insect-boy who lives a bearably normal life in a town laden with fog/smoke, where it's basically always night. Only when he has to leave (escape?) with his mother to the countryside, does he have confront his differentness. You know, because he's a giant bug-boy. You can check out free previews here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. Oh god actually, a quick search just found the whole thing online! UPDATE: Upon closer inspection (DUH), this fully-available link is the english scanlation of the Insekt. HOT DAMN!

This is another example of me wishing I had more clout-- Throw my sweaty weight around and petition that this book gets bought, translated and released in the States. It seems like a perfect fit for either Dark Horse or Fantagraphics, depending on which way you packaged it. I actually mentioned Insekt to the guys at Reprodukt's booth and they said that there had been some early interest from a few US publishers, but no official action yet. Sucks, doesn't it?

Here are more pictures from Sascha's site that you should check out. You can also download min-comics as free PDFs on his page, including the short but awesome "Reach out and touch someone.... undead" comic Telefon (right-click for PDF download). Another great find (and awesome person we've met), thanks to a corporate, work-funded book fair trip. I'm all for mixing business & pleasure. Can't wait to see his next book (slated to be released in 2007)!

Next up: A PREVIEW OF VERTICAL'S UPCOMING TO TERRA by Keiko Takemiya. Oh, and the conclusion (finally) of the TRANS-EUROPE EXPRESS posts.


Anonymous said...

did you guys ever link to some comics by Usamaru Furuya?
i went through your archives looking for the comics i was thinking of but couldn't find them.

Ryan said...

Hey Bryan,
We did, but later took the links down since they were wholesale scans of a Viz book. BUT, if you send me an email ( i might be able to dig something up...


Anonymous said...

I´m glad you liked the book...but Sascha Hommer´s real name is in fact Sascha Hommer, Pascal D. Bohr was his Pseudonym and the complete book on serializer is not illegal...just a way for english speaking people to read it as a whole...

Ryan said...

Hi Sebastian!

Thanks for the comments... I've updated the post accordingly. For some reason his profile on lambiek mentioned that Pascal Bohr was his REAL name... weird! I've read more on serializer now and see that it's a different kind of site than I thought at first glance. Thanks :)

ill iterate said...

dude awesome. i want.

Ryan said...

verticalite: you LOVE it. man, his comics would make a really great addition to an upcoming MOME, etc...